Monday, 14 December 2009
Christmas Day 1996 came twelve days after my ninth birthday. Thirteen years later I can't remember what I had actually asked for that Christmas - chances are it involved Asterix, or The Simpsons; what I can say is that I don't believe I had asked for the present I received from my uncle. Sitting on the floor of our living room, I peeled back the green Christmas tree wrapping paper and slowly unveiled the hard plastic case of the video hidden within. I held in my hands a brand new VHS copy of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first feature length cel-animated film ever released.
Of course, to a nine year-old boy there is no real kudos held by the history of cinema - least of all a cartoon fairy tale made fifty years before he was even born. I looked at the video in front of me, and then up to my uncle's face. He was smiling earnestly.
"A little birdy told me you wanted this." he said, and I looked back to the white case for the film. A little birdy? My mind flickered into New York gangster mode - this was a little birdy that would have to be silenced. What respectable nine year-old boy wanted Snow White? The Lion King, perhaps. Aladdin, maybe. But a fairy tale about a pasty princess and her dwarf buddies? Definitely not.
Flash forward thirteen years, to yesterday morning - my twenty-second birthday. I sit perhaps five foot from where a little birdy betrayed me back in '96, and tentatively hold a thin rectangular present that my sister has posted down from Leicestershire. As I tear the paper free from the gift, a DVD is revealed. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I smile, because this time the little birdy that had informed my family member had been myself. For the past three years I have bought every Disney Animated Classic that I could find; my aim being to collect the complete set. Though Snow White is not the last of the films needed to finish the set (I still need The Wild, Meet The Robinsons and Bolt), but it was the last major step I needed in order to start a festival I'll be calling 'Fifty Days Of Disney'. Over the next forty-nine days or so, I will be working through each and every one of the Disney Animated Classics Canon - from Snow White to Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast to Hercules. Taking a break every few days, I aim to reach Bolt - the 48th film - around the 9th of February, when Disney's 49th classic, The Princess and the Frog, finds its UK release.
With any luck, I'll be writing an entry here for every film - not so much a review as thoughts inspired by the films. I'll write about the films, the nostalgia and the world they made an impact on. And that's my agenda:
1. To watch each of Disney's Animated Classics, in chronological order.
2. To write about them here, in a way that might border on pointless, but never on boring.
Tune in tomorrow for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and the start of animated cinema!